As someone who exclusively wears black and hates going out in the sun because I like looking pale, I’m not a huge fan of summer. If you’re goth, I’m sure you can relate tenfold. The pressing sun makes wearing your dark, layered clothing challenging. How are you supposed to wear gloves, tights, and all black in the sweltering heat? A parasol can only do so much, and that’s mainly for the romantic goths.

Your fingernails are a great way to express yourself without adding extra heat absorbing properties to your body. Not only do they let you hold onto your identity, they are androgynous and can be worn by anyone.

Here is some goth nail inspiration for long-term goths and baby bats alike!

Nail Shape

The first step in any nail design is choosing a shape. The shape can completely change the entire vibe of the nail art. The easiest and most androgynous (also cheapest) is your natural nail. However, there are so many different styles to choose from.

A visual guide of different nail shapes including, oval, square, almond, and stiletto.
The shape of your nail can change the entire emotion of the design and your look! Image courtesy of GlamerMaid.

If you want to commit to a vampiric look, the coffin and long coffin shape are absolutely perfect. The name is literally coffin. Anyways, the stiletto shape is also good for claw imagery. As with any subculture, there are no real rules, so pick what you like and run with it.

Now let’s get into the actual designs!


Bows have been a strong 2023 trend, thanks to the 2022 rise of hyperfemininity. Personally, I’m a big fan. It brings back memories of girlhood and holding back tears while your mom yanks at your hair to tie the ribbons you don’t particularly want. To make it goth, find the beauty in that (scalp) pain with bows on your nails.

To keep it gothic, stick to black, red, or white colors. The bows can be a simple decal or a sculptural statement.

Composite image: on the left is a hand with black and tan nails. One of which has a large 3-d black bow on it. The right shows a french tip nail design, with a black bow separating the light pink from the white.
Now, these are much more neutral, but they can be amped up as much as you like. These two show how the bow can be large and 3-d or small and painted on. Images courtesy of StyleCraze and PXFuel.


Taylor Swift’s Eras tour has been sweeping the nation (and our Tiktok FYPs). With that comes fashion and nails. You may have seen girls showing off their multicolored fingernails, each corresponding to a different album.

For a more goth nail look, swap out Taylor Swift for goth artists. Perhaps, there’s another artist that happens to be going on a massive tour right now. If you’re one of the lucky few who managed to get tickets to see The Cure, show off your good fortune with a nod to the icons.

Perhaps you could try to recreate their Wish 30 year anniversary album cover on your nails. I personally think the drawn eyes could be a fun design.

Album cover of The Cure’s 30th anniversary of Wish.
The Cure’s 30th anniversary album cover for Wish has fun motifs that could easily transfer to your nails. Image courtesy of Universal Music.

But this can apply to any artist you like. If you’re more of a Strawberry Switchblade goth, you could literally paint a strawberry on one nail and a knife on another. For a more subtle take, you could do black and white polk-a-dots as a nod to their fashion and album covers.

Composite Image. Left: Strawberry Switchblade dressed in black and white polk-a-dots. Right: Nail art with a black base and white polk-a-dots.
Polk-a-dots are a classic nail design, but pairing it with bands like Strawberry Switchblade can bring new inspiration to the pattern. Images courtesy of TheAudioDB and Byrdie.


For a more youthful charm, there is absolutely no way to go wrong with a sanrio nail design. Though Sanrio and its characters tilt closer to Emo or Scene, we’re all sad, so I think it’s okay. Kuromi is the obvious choice for a darker color palette. Her black and pastel pink combination has all the girlies in a chokehold and I’m not complaining.

Nail art with Kuromi, bows, sparkles, and diamonds.
Kuromi nails are a cute way to show off your personality and love of Sanrio characters. Image courtesy of Etsy seller TongSeNails.

However, I don’t think anyone will deny you a goth Hello Kitty. She adapts to every aesthetic better than a chameleon. You could put her in camouflage and the troops would salute her everyday.

Black and pink nails with painted Hello Kitty faces.
Hello Kitty nails are a classic. Everyone knows her and everyone loves her. Instead of press-ons or sculpted decals, a 2-d image can be more suitable for everyday life. Image courtesy of IdeaStand.


I doubt I need to explain why crosses are a good option for goth nails… but I will anyway. Crosses have been associated with the gothic aesthetic since the 18th century, back when England was anti-Catholic. Wearing the cross was a sign of rebellion. Jumping forward, in the 1970s and 1980s, when the subculture was on the rise, goth music contained many themes of Christianity.

Now, the cross is used to show your Christian beliefs, but also represent everlasting life. An upside down or inverted cross can represent death or a rejection of Jesus completely. It can also be a sign of Paganism.

Composite Image. Left: Red, marble press-on nails. The accent nail is a cross made of sparkly gems. Right: Black nails with a coffin design and crosses on each.
The cross can be displayed in countless ways. Form it from bling or paint it onto a literal coffin design. Images courtesy of Etsy seller FairyDustNailCompany and ChicNailArt.


These next few are a bit Halloween-esque. However, considering your subculture of choice, I doubt that’s a problem for you. Plus, summer is basically the prequel to Halloween.

Spider Webs

It is never too early for spooky, scary skeleton season, or spoopy season, as the kids say. A spider web design is simple enough to do yourself, if you have a thin brush and a lot of patience.

Ouija Board

Goth is about finding the beauty in death. Ouija boards are pretty and related to the dead… so put them on your fingers. These are much more in-depth and would probably require a professional. Or at least a few hours of inhaling nail polish fumes, but they look super cool.

Black painted nails. On each hand, two fingernails have a Ouijia board decal.
Ouijia board nails act as an excellent accent for a solid black set. You can take inspiration from the letters, the ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ or the eyes. Image courtesy of Tumblr user Sweetalize.

Black Cats

If you’re goth and don’t have an affinity for cats, are you really goth? Just kidding. If everyone thinks you’re a witch anyway, might as well draw the stereotypical sidekick on your nails.

The cat designs can go so many ways, you can go for a Jiji from Kiki’s delivery service, generic whisters, a subtle outline, or a bold colorful kitty. Plus, this is a design you can do yourself!

Composite Image. On the left is an all black manicure with a white cat face and cat paws. The right has a purple background with black cats on each nail.
These examples have gone for a simpler cat design. Play with colors: do you want a traditional black cat or an orange tabby? Or maybe you’d prefer Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery service. No shame. Images courtesy of FashionInterest and Twitter User: @rockstartoes

Bloody French Tip

I’ve shown a few variations on the French Tip nails, but here you can really subvert it with a blood drip. Instead of the classic nude nail with white tips, start with a black or white base and make bloody red drips for a subversive take on the classic design.


Composite Image. Left: A black manicure with red blood drips on the tips. Right: Black and red gradient nails with red blood drips.
Illuminate by Liana has a great selection of press ons. For gothic styles check out her gothic collection and the spooky selection for more cartoony and cutesy skulls and cats. Images courtesy of Fabmood and Illuminate by Liana.

Moons and Stars

There is absolutely no way to go wrong with a celestial inspired nail set. Taking imagery from the night sky is a great way to show a love for the dark.

Composite Image. Left: Black and white manicure with crescent moons and exaggerated twinkling star shapes. Right: Black base with full and half moon designs broken up by spotted stars.
The stars and moon are an excellent gothic motif. Honor their beauty on your nails however you please. Image courtesy of Glamermaid and Jersey Girl Texan Heart.

Those are our goth nail ideas for the Summer!

Feel free to use any of these ideas and twist them to whatever you like. Keep subverting what’s ‘traditional.’